Converse Redesigns Chuck Taylor All Stars for the First Time in 98 Years—And …

24 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

After 98 Years, Chuck Taylors Finally Get Some Cushioning.

Before there was Michael Jordan, there was Chuck Taylor. Boston-based Converse Inc. announced Thursday that a new Chuck Taylor All-Star sneaker will hit retail stores next week, marking the first update to the iconic and well-beloved shoe in its 98-year history.BOSTON (CBS) — Converse has unveiled an upgraded version of its legendary Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers which first hit the market nearly 100 years ago.

One of the less awesome things about getting older is that being on your feet for hours at a time at a concert, walking miles around the city, or any other similar activity ends up taking a progressively bigger toll on your feet. The Indiana basketball star was the first to get his name on a pair of signature sneakers when Converse’s “Chuck Taylor” All Stars rolled out in 1917. Sure, I could wear them for lower-impact occasions, but I’ll end up falling in love with them all over again, wearing them constantly, and doing a number on my feet.

According to Thursday’s announcement, upgrades to the Chuck include the addition of a sock liner made from Nike Lunarlon (a lightweight cushiony foam to add support), a foam-padded collar and nonslip gusseted tongue, and a perforated micro-suede liner designed to increase breathability. Nike’s Lunarlon foam gives extra cushioning, just like it does for about 100 ther Nike styles, from the casual Air Force 1, to its Kobe X basketball shoe. The sneakers—which have served as the preferred footwear for celebrities ranging from Wilt Chamberlain to Kurt Cobain—are officially getting a 21st-century update. The minimal exterior tweaks seem to be limited to monochrome matte eyelets, a taller band of foxing (the white rubber sidewall where the canvas upper meets the sole) and All Star logo patches that are embroidered instead of being printed on the canvas (which also apparently has been upgraded to “premium canvas”). The flat-soled, rubber-toed high-top was worn by NBA players such as Wilt Chamberlain before it lost favor in the sports world—for good reason—and gained cachet as a casual sneaker, worn by everyone from ’80s musicians, such as the Ramones and Debbie Harry, to today’s starlets, including Kristen Stewart and Katy Perry.

All that tweaking makes for a sneaker with a price tag of $70 (for the oxford, a.k.a. low-top silhouette) and $75 for the high-top, a price upgrade of $20 over the current incarnation, which isn’t going to be mothballed, retired or discontinued. So, it will be a red-letter day for us as a business I think.” “It’s a great responsibility for us to work with a product that has lasted as long as it has,” he told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker, “And it’s interesting for us working in the business, how that sneaker has evolved and the different consumers that have adopted it as part of their lifestyle.” “Well, it’s an amazing opportunity for our design team to be given that (task),” he said. “Everything starts with the consumer, so really listening to what they wanted from their sneakers as they go about their creative lifestyle. Nike designed Lunarlon to withstand repeat impact on the sole, the kind experienced by marathoners and basketball players who run or jump continuously for long periods.

At first glance, the changes seem pretty modest, but we bet the legions of Chuck lovers out there will have something to say once they’ve had a chance to get their hands on (and feet in) the new version. While all this innovation sounds foot-friendly to me, there’s no doubt that these shoes lose a bit of style compared to their classic older brother — the match of the eyelets and laces to the overall shoe color feels like a bit much, and I miss the racing stripe along the rubber bottom trim — but nonetheless, I’m encouraged despite the fact that I’m super picky about sneakers. (My esteemed colleague, Jake Kastrenakes, is less bullish. He even wore a pair to his wedding, but he realized that the shoes needed an update when he first spent time on the road with a rock band three years ago. He called the new shoe “the worst sequel since Back to the Future II.” I countered by saying that throwing some white laces in the black shoe gets you 90 percent of the way to the classic look.

Obviously, we went really deep with our immersion of their world, and we learn a lot from the creative artists, whether they come from music or other creative pursuits. Converse also hears from a lot of fans via its social media – it has 920,000 Twitter followers, and its Instagram following tops 2.3 million – and Copcutt says online feedback has helped Converse understand its customers like never before. They are looking for elements of comfort, performance, and retaining the style that I think Chuck Taylor is famous for.” “It’s not that the shoe is wearing you. An embossed logo on the license plate—the rubber rectangle on the heel that you scuff with the toe of your other foot while taking off your shoe—replaces a screen-printed wordmark. It’s you wearing the sneaker and expressing yourself within it,” Copcutt said. “So, I think that’s its great hidden power…is that it isn’t overbearing, and then it allows you to be you.” “Absolutely.

The foxing—the rubber band connecting the upper and the sole—is higher to more cleanly meet the bright-white toecap, and the dark pinstripe is now a striated pattern referencing a time factory workers manually reinforced the natural rubber using a tool resembling a pizza cutter. Although I guess over time the consumer may decide that,” he said. “It’s the consumer that really holds the power within our business, so we’ll still be offering the original Chuck.

Nike bought Converse for $305 million in 2003, and the Chuck II incorporates some technology from the brand’s parent company, such as Lunarlon, a plush and springy foam cushioning that lines the footpad. To get the thickness just right, Cioffi says his team had a “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” moment—too bulky, and the shoe felt uncomfortably tight when tied; too thin, and the canvas slumped and bagged. “We wanted a close but not second-skin fit,” he says.

He also added a breathable micro-suede at the touchpoints of the shoe—“literally, everywhere your finger pads are going to touch as you open the sneaker to let your foot slide in.” The tongue was also reengineered with Gore bands on both sides to make it stay in place. Frederick, who headed Converse’s research and development in the 1990s, told the Boston Globe that attempts to improve the product haven’t always met with applause. Cioffi says that the design team was careful to introduce some innovative elements to the All Stars without changing them so radically that they lose their unobtrusiveness.

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